Journalist Omoyele Sowore is the founder of U.S.-based Sahara Reporters, an online publication that reports on corruption in Nigeria. In August 2019, he was arrested by agents of the Department of State Security (DSS) on charges of treason, money laundering and harassing President Muhammadu Buhari. Sowore was granted bail in October, but was not released until last week, because security agents said he had not met the bail conditions.
After his brief release on Thursday, December 5, he managed to talk to his family for the first time in months via Skype. The next day, Sowore was re-arrested and dragged out of a federal court in Abuja by DSS officials. The journalist was “strangled and forcefully harmed” and taken by “brutal force”, according to Sowore’s wife, Ope Sowore, in an interview with CNN. According to his lawyer, his case has now been adjourned until February 11, 2020.
The National Secretariat of NUJ condemned the arrest: “We condemn in its totality the conduct of the DSS and call for disciplinary measures against whosoever authorised that... and demand an unqualified apology from the Federal Government...and an assurance that such conduct will not repeat itself again.”
The IFJ has spoken out before about the mistreatment of Nigerian journalists, most recently in the case of Mary Ekere, who was arrested while taking pictures of a police raid in September.
IFJ General secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “The IFJ calls for a release of Omoyele Sowore and we urge the DSS officials to abide by the law. A court-order for release must be respected and not blatantly ignored by security officials. The IFJ will continue to monitor the situation of journalists in Nigeria and speak out when their rights are being violated”.